Meet Mable – Fun with 3D Printing

Last Thursday was our second annual Apparitions and Archaeology Haunted Campus Tour. With the help of the MSU Paranormal Society we held a public tour with six stations across north campus. Although the weather was less than cooperative (on and off rain with temperature in the low 40s) 75 brave people took the tour. It was there that we officially introduced Mable.

Mable

Porcelain Doll found in West Circle Privy

During the excavation of the west circle privy in June we discovered a porcelain doll, who we have named Mable. She’s remarkably complete, and her hair style (flat-top) indicates that she dates to the 1860s. Finding the doll was both startling, and amazing. We don’t have many artifacts linked to children. A doll is also a wonderful talking point when explaining archaeology to young people. However, even though she glued back together wonderfully, she’s still very fragile. Enter 3D scanning and printing.

CAP fellow Blair Zaid previously discussed her foray into 3D scanning and printing last semester. We once again called on the expertise of the Lab for the Education and Advancement in Digital Research (LEADR) to scan and print Mable. Scanning the doll presented some unique challenges.

Brian Geyer conducting photogrammetry

Brian Geyer conducting photogrammetry

Mable is both delicate and top heavy. That made using the rotating scanner out of the question, so we turned to photogrammetry. Photogrammetry involves combining many still photographs of an object with precise measurements in order to build a 3D model. We were worried that Mable may have been too shiny, and that would cause distortion in the model. However we compensated for this by increasing the resolution of the photos.

 

Rendering the scan

Rendering the scan

color rendering

Color rendering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We first printed Mable in solid white, but then decided to have some fun. 3D printing filament comes in a variety of colors, including glow in the dark. I figured that a glow in the dark doll head would be the perfect addition to our Haunted Tour. But we didn’t stop there. One of the fun things about 3D printing is that you can control the size of the printed object. So we scaled her down, and printed glow in the dark necklace pendants.

Mable printed in different sizes and colors

Mable printed in different sizes and colors

Mable in pendant size

Mable in pendant size

Glow in the dark prints

Glow in the dark prints

So now we have both glow in the dark, and standard white prints of Mable.  We plan to paint one of the white prints to match the actual doll.  Having 3D prints of excavated artifacts allows these objects to be handled by the public without fear of damage.  It’s also many peoples first time handling a 3D printed object.  3D printing is still new enough that although most people know what it is, they haven’t had the chance to encounter any prints yet.

We’re grateful for the hard work LEADR lab (specifically Brian Geyer) put into scanning and printing Mable.  We look forward to having more fun with the 3D printer.

Mable on the Haunted Tour

Mable on the Haunted Tour

My 3D artifact Odyssey: Introduction to MSU LEADR

Last semester I began a quest to create 3D renditions of some of our artifacts and display them ever so eloquently on the CAP website. As mentioned in my previous posts, I used 123D Catch, a free photogrammetry application that can be used right on your smartphone. My first couple attempts were mildly successful but for some reason, my last several attempts at creating 3D images were a #fail. So I decided to investigate the bountiful resources that MSU has to offer and everyone pointed me to LEADR, or the Lab for the Education and Advancement in Digital Research.

LEADR, located on the first floor of Old Horticulture , is a recent addition to campus and seeks to help students create digital and web based products for their research. With a long list of equipment, personnel, and resources, this is the perfect place to design innovative and dynamic elements for digital representations of your work.   LEADR is focused on the fields that are typically slow to develop digitally competency such as History and Anthropology.  LEADR then, isn’t just focused on the product, but helping you learn the technology as well as the significance of digital humanities. So someone like me can go in there with my vision of the final product and they can teach me how to achieve it

So, last week I took my less-than-stellar 3D renditions to LEADR and they helped me develop a plan to construct relevant 3D models that can be viewed on the CAP website. Their first piece of advice was to re-scan the artifacts with their lab equipment. They suggested that while 123D Catch is pretty practical and useful, it may not be able to obtain the detail that I am looking for. Also, the editing available through 123D Catch may be a bit clunky for my novice hands and that LEADR software was a bit more user friendly. 

Another feature of LEADR is that some of their equipment is available for checkout! I am particularly interested in the hand held 3D scanner that will allow me to scan larger objects in the CAP lab. This hopefully will produce better quality images than the ones I took with my smartphone.

Lastly, one of the best features of LEADR is that they actually print 3D renditions at low or no cost to students! Now Kate and I plan to print 3D renditions of our projectile points for me to take to our UMASS Cultural Landscapes and Digital Values conference presentation. This will make a great addition to our discussion on pre-historic land use and cultural heritage on campus.

Well, hopefully this short post informed you of yet another resource on campus as well as another way to incorporate digital archaeology and now 3D printing into your work. I can’t wait to post about the next installment on this Odyssey of 3D images and archaeological research!